Prerequisites of Professional Learning Communities

Professional learning communities are forums for reflecting on the results of certain strategies and planning new ones. I will not dwell on why these are essential to any effort of elevating the teaching culture and teacher discourse in a school. I will also skip the reasons for elevating culture discourse. Instead, how can we build and maintain professional learning communities?

Professional learning communities are made up of professional learning relationships. Professional learning relationships only exist between teachers who share a vision of professional learning. Since the only person I can control is me, how will I develop a shared vision with the teachers I work with?

  • I will seize opportunities to build sincere friendships with fellow teachers. (How could there possibly be collaboration without joyful decision making in a framework characterized by trust?)
  • I will journal my strategies and the results with regularity. This reflection give me something to base future decisions on. Periodically, I will articulate the specific strengths of my planning, teaching, and assessment process that address my challenges effectively. Also, I will list the approaches that are not conducive to effectively meeting goals.
  • I will keep apprised of the my fellow teachers’ friends’ progress towards their chosen goals.
  • When I see that a fellow teacher friend is facing similar difficulties that I have, I will choose/create a setting where the person will be receptive to my suggestion. I will ask if and how their students might benefit if (s)he used a strategy like I have found to be effective.
  • When I see that a friend is unhindered by a challenge I am struggling with, I will choose/create a setting where I can share my difficulty and ask what has helped them.

Perhaps this list could be refined to include the actions taken within professional learning communities. As we get used to this pattern, we can accompany other teachers in the same. Once a vision for changing teaching culture is shared, it may be fitting to formalize professional learning teams according what is natural considering teachers’ sociability, strengths and challenges.

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